Africa-Press – Lesotho. American biotech firm Ginkgo Bioworks on Wednesday, February 15, announced a one-year pathogen monitoring program at the Kigali International Airport (KIA) to identify new and emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2.
The agreement was reached together with the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), according to a firm which is already working to develop new biosecurity capabilities in the country. Ginkgo Bioworks is also building the leading platform for cell programming and biosecurity globally.
Under the agreement, Ginkgo’s biosecurity and public health unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, will collaborate with RBC to monitor wastewater samples from arriving aircraft and nasal swab samples, collected on a voluntary, anonymous basis from arriving international travelers, for SARS-CoV-2, an effort to provide critical public health insights to help inform mitigation strategies in Rwanda and globally.
Ginkgo and RBC will also work together to establish KIA as a new node in a global network of pathogen monitoring infrastructure, complementing the insights generated from Concentric’s existing travel biosecurity programs at several major international airports in the U.
S. “As we continue to feel the impacts of emerging variants and pathogens, we recognize the need to create a sustainable public health and biosecurity infrastructure in Rwanda and internationally.
We are thrilled to launch this program at Kigali International Airport in partnership with Ginkgo to enhance our biosecurity capabilities,” Claude Muvunyi, the Director General at RBC said. The development follows Ginkgo’s previously announced deal to develop and implement biosecurity capabilities in Rwanda.
“Mitigating the risk of biological threats, including emerging viral variants, remains a global imperative that necessitates a robust early warning system,” added Matt McKnight, General Manager, Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks.
“This pathogen monitoring program at Kigali International Airport will act like public health radar, providing leaders with near-real-time data to inform targeted response strategies.
We are excited to be partnering with the Rwanda Biomedical Centre—to stay ahead of the next variant or pathogen of concern, we must take an international approach to biosecurity.
Ginkgo is set to support the end-to-end collection and analysis workflow with materials, training and logistical support, digital platform and data reporting, as well as bioinformatics and decision support services, while RBC will contribute on-the-ground operational support for sample collection, testing, and sequencing.
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